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The Essential 7 Driving Techniques

Truck drivers were asked to identify the driving skills they felt were most effective in preventing crashes. They agreed on the Essential 7 Driving Techniques. Read the information below and ask yourself how you can improve your driving style using these techniques. AVOID DISTRACTIONS Distracted driving involves any activity (including illness and fatigue) that diverts your attention away from driving. BEST PRACTICES: While driving, do not use mobile devices, eat or drink, daydream, etc. Make quick glances to mirrors. Get plenty of rest. If driving, avoid medications that can cause drowsiness. OBSERVE PROPER SPEED FOR CONDITIONS Adjust your speed based on the environment, such as traffic volume, snow, rain, road construction, etc. BEST PRACTICES: Reduce speed by at least 2-3 mph below the flow of traffic, not to exceed the posted speed limit. If conditions are unsafe to drive in, pull over until it is safe to continue. MAINTAIN PROPER FOLLOWING DISTANCE  Trucks need more distance to stop than passenger vehicles need. Creating more space between the truck and vehicles ahead gives you more time to perceive and react to hazards. BEST PRACTICES: Keep a minimum of six seconds behind the vehicle ahead and add one second more for each additional hazard present. BE ATTENTIVE TO THE ROAD AHEAD Traffic ahead can slow or stop abruptly; or a hazard may present itself unexpectedly, like a deer running across the road, requiring you to react suddenly. BEST PRACTICES: Be prepared to stop suddenly. Watch for traffic slowing or stopping ahead, then get off the accelerator immediately and apply controlled braking. REACT PROPERLY TO HAZARDS Each hazard you encounter is unique, and the proper reaction can range from adjusting your speed and increasing following distance to pulling over until it is safe to continue driving. BEST PRACTICES: A proper reaction to a hazard shouldn’t put other drivers at risk. Be alert. Recognize the hazard. Know the defense. YIELD THE RIGHT OF WAY Forcing your vehicle into another driver’s lane, blocking oncoming traffic, or preventing merging traffic from entering are examples of failing to yield the right of way. BEST PRACTICES: Remember to drive defensively. Even if you have the right of way, yielding to other drivers may be necessary to prevent a crash. MAINTAIN ONE LANE Avoid frequent lane changes and stay in one lane as much as possible. BEST PRACTICES: Before changing lanes, make sure it is safe and legal to do so. Use the mirrors and “Lean and Look” method to ensure the adjacent lane is clear, activate the turn signal, and then move over gradually.   Note: These lists are not intended to be all-inclusive. The information in this article is provided as a courtesy of Great West Casualty Company and is part of the Value-Driven® Company program. Value-Driven Company was created to help educate and inform insureds so they can make better decisions, build a culture that values safety, and manage risk more effectively. To see what additional resources Great West Casualty Company can provide for its insureds, please contact your safety representative, or click below to find an agent.  © Great West Casualty Company 2019. The material in this publication is the property of Great West Casualty Company unless otherwise noted and may not be reproduced without its written consent by any person other than a current insured of Great West Casualty Company for business purposes. Insured should attribute use as follows: “© Great West Casualty Company 2019. Used with permission by Great West Casualty Company.” This material is intended to be a broad overview of the subject matter and is provided for informational purposes only. Great West Casualty Company does not provide legal advice to its insureds, nor does it advise insureds on employment-related issues. Therefore, the subject matter is not intended to serve as legal or employment advice for any issue(s) that may arise in the operations of its insureds. Legal advice should always be sought from the insured’s legal counsel. Great West Casualty Company shall have neither liability nor responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss, action, or inaction alleged to be caused directly or indirectly as a result of the information contained herein.
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Use Positive Spillover to Improve Safety Performance

Have you ever noticed how people are influenced by those around them? Think of a neighborhood where one homeowner works very hard to keep his/her yard perfectly manicured. When neighbors see this meticulous attention to detail, they tend to raise their games and follow suit by taking better care of their properties. Before you know it, the entire neighborhood looks gorgeous and becomes a center of pride for everyone. One homeowner’s efforts had a positive spillover effect on his/her neighbors. In a service-oriented industry like transportation, think of how a top performer can improve customer service by bringing out the best in others. For example, one of the benefits of a small-sized trucking company is its sense of family. This closeness comes from ownership/management’s ability to have daily contact with all employees to the point where managers know the names of employees, their spouses, and children. Actively engaging employees to this degree, sharing an enthusiasm for the company, and most importantly, helping employees see they are valuable contributors to the company’s success can have a positive spillover effect. By taking pride in themselves and the company, employees become better advocates for the company’s products and services and ultimately strive to provide better customer service. From a safety standpoint, consider how management’s commitment to safety can create positive spillover and improve employee safety performance. When management leads by example and establishes high expectations, employees will be more apt to emulate this behavior and be more inclined to participate in organized safety activities. With improved safety performance, the organization will benefit in the following ways: • Fewer losses • Increased productivity • Improved morale • Lower turnover • Better communication • Lower workers’ compensation insurance costs                                                                                    • Reduced medical expenses • Decreased roadside violations • Increased customer service Improving safety performance through positive spillover is relatively inexpensive. It may cost nothing at all and require only minor operational adjustments. For example, selecting a safety-minded high-performer to conduct road tests or to mentor new drivers can have a positive spillover effect. Not only do new hires learn immediately what the company expects relative to safety performance, but also the personal interaction with someone exhibiting these characteristics creates a positive and lasting impression. Conversely, toxic employees are experts in creating negative spillover. Do not allow these personality types to monopolize discussions during safety meetings. Instead, intentionally involve top performers in the discussion from the start, and encourage new employees to participate so they feel their views are valid and a welcome contribution. CALL TO ACTION Identify safety-minded high-performers and keep them engaged by involving them in special projects. Recognize high-performers for their contributions to safety in group settings with their peers. Establish a driver mentoring program where top performers can influence new hires. Select a top-performing, safety-conscious driver to conduct road test evaluations.   Note: These lists are not intended to be all-inclusive. The information in this article is provided as a courtesy of Great West Casualty Company and is part of the Value-Driven® Company program. Value-Driven Company was created to help educate and inform insureds so they can make better decisions, build a culture that values safety, and manage risk more effectively. To see what additional resources Great West Casualty Company can provide for its insureds, please contact your safety representative, or click below to find an agent.  © Great West Casualty Company 2019. The material in this publication is the property of Great West Casualty Company unless otherwise noted and may not be reproduced without its written consent by any person other than a current insured of Great West Casualty Company for business purposes. Insured should attribute use as follows: “© Great West Casualty Company 2019. Used with permission by Great West Casualty Company.” This material is intended to be a broad overview of the subject matter and is provided for informational purposes only. Great West Casualty Company does not provide legal advice to its insureds, nor does it advise insureds on employment-related issues. Therefore, the subject matter is not intended to serve as legal or employment advice for any issue(s) that may arise in the operations of its insureds. Legal advice should always be sought from the insured’s legal counsel. Great West Casualty Company shall have neither liability nor responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss, action, or inaction alleged to be caused directly or indirectly as a result of the information contained herein.
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Ask the Safety Representative: What is the Difference between an AOBRD and AN ELD?

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It's That Time of Year Again! Quick Review of School Zone Safety

Yes, school is back in session and that means school zone safety. We have all heard it said, “The biggest worries in school zones are caused by the smallest people.” Children see traffic from their own little world. A child develops a sense of danger around nine or ten years of age. Unlike adults, it is difficult for small children to recognize a hazardous situation. A child may think that if one automobile stops, all traffic will stop. 
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The Essential 7 Work Practices

Truck drivers, mechanics, and office workers were asked to identify the skills they felt were most effective in preventing workplace injuries. They agreed on the Essential 7 Work Practices. Read the information below and ask yourself how you can improve your work habits to protect yourself from injury.
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Back to Basics

In the frenzied pace of motor carrier operations, it is easy to get caught up in the daily grind and lose sight of fundamentals. For any business, three key elements are crucial to success: communication, teamwork, and planning. Revisiting each of these elements periodically is healthy for the entire organization and can help the company achieve its objectives. However, one area that motor carriers tend to ignore in varying degrees is safety. In the Spring 2019 issue of Safety Talk, we discussed how practical drift, an employee’s gradual deviation from established policies and procedures, can erode the effectiveness of a company’s safety efforts, and if allowed to continue unchecked, can negatively define the company’s culture. Senior management at a trucking company can contribute to this erosion as well. Here is an example: A motor carrier may become complacent or resistant to change because it hasn’t recently experienced a crash or injury. Management then adopts a mentality of, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” This type of mentality introduces risk into what may otherwise be a healthy organization. If management cannot attribute the company’s success to effective loss-prevention practices, it is essentially saying pure luck is responsible for the company’s performance. Regardless of past loss performance, no company can afford to rest on its laurels if it expects to remain competitive. A periodic review of basic safety practices is essential because new risks may be present that have not been accounted for. Whether a change in customers, equipment, commodities, or personnel, motor carriers should have a process in place to continually assess their risks and determine if current safety practices are sufficient. Below are some assessment methods.
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Preventing Lane Change Crashes

Lane change crashes can often be prevented if the truck driver recognizes the hazards that increase the risk of a crash and applies the right defensive driving techniques. Read the information below then ask yourself how you can improve your driving to prevent lane change crashes.
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How to Avoid the Four Critical Crashes

Critical crashes typically result in severe losses and can be catastrophic for everyone involved. Preventing critical crashes requires drivers to recognize the hazards that increase the odds of a crash, know the defense, and to react properly. Read the information below, and ask yourself how you can improve your vigilance and driving style.
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How to Protect Yourself From Fall-Related Injuries

Falling from an elevated position, such as the truck, a ladder, or even an open service pit, can lead to serious injuries and fatalities. Read the information below about fall hazards and the recommended defense techniques, and then ask yourself how you can change your work habits to protect yourself from harm.
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Why You Should Make Road Tests Part of the Hiring Process

One of the most important responsibilities a motor carrier has is to hire qualified drivers. This critical task, if conducted haphazardly or not performed at all, could have a negative ripple effect across the company and affect productivity, downtime, morale, expenses, and profitability. Due diligence should be given to screening applicants and conducting required background checks, but, arguably, the most reliable method to gauge a driver’s abilities and safety attitude is with a comprehensive road test.
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